intern-al affair | 

Taoiseach apologises for making Bill Clinton Monica Lewinsky affair joke on US trip

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Washington DC in the US (Niall Carson/PA)© Niall Carson

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)© Niall Carson


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has apologised after making a joke at Bill Clinton’s expense.

Mr Varadkar told an American audience he was a Washington intern “when some parents would have had cause for concern about what would happen to interns in Washington".

Mr Varadkar was aged 21 when he served as an intern in Congress. Bill Clinton was in the White House at the time and famously had an affair with intern Monica Lewinsky that led to an impeachment process.

Some of the audience laughed when Mr Varadkar made his comment at the Washington Ireland Programme event during his St Patrick’s Day trip to the US.

Earlier, Mr Varadkar met former US first lady Hillary Clinton at a Women at the Helm conference at Georgetown University in Washington.

She became Secretary of State after the scandal and ran for the presidency herself in 2016, defeated by Donald Trump.

The former US president’s affair with Ms Lewinsky occurred in 1995 and 1996 when she was 23 and he was 50. Ms Lewinsky has spoken of how she was publicly shamed for years over the events.

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach said: “At the Washington Ireland Program event today the Taoiseach was reminiscing about his time in Washington DC as an intern 23 years ago. He made an ill-judged off-the-cuff remark which he regrets. He apologises for any offence caused to anyone concerned.”

Mr Varadkar was an intern for congressman Jack Quinn in the year 2000 — under the Washington Ireland Programme when it was operating under the name Future Leaders.

Bill and Hillary Clinton are due in Ireland next month to help mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

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